2129: 1921 Fact Checker

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1921 Fact Checker


This comic shows a 1921 newspaper article with information about the Pilgrims coming to America. Randall has a 'grudging respect' for the author, who feels the information is so unimportant that no fact-checking has been done, and has enough integrity to inform the reader of this.

The Kansas City Sun referenced by the comic was a newspaper in Kansas City, Kansas that ran from 1892 to 1924(?). (Interestingly, there was also a Kansas City Sun in Kansas City, Missouri that ran from 1908 to 1924.)

PolitiFact, mentioned in the title text, is a fact-checking project which evaluates the truth or falsity of various statements made by politicians and other people involved in U.S. politics. The positions on its rating scale are "True", "Mostly True", "Half True", "Mostly False", "False", and "Pants on Fire", the last position being reserved for the most egregiously "false" claims. "Mostly Whatever", the rating identified in the title text, is presented by Randall as a rating that could apply to claims that have so little relevance or interest that they are not worth checking. See also 1712: Politifact.

As for the purported fact, a modern summary of the Pilgrims' supplies indicates that the Pilgrims did bring all the listed items of food and drink, though it does not make it clear whether these supplies were required or what quantities were brought. Compare the newspaper list ('eight bushels of corn meal, two bushels of oatmeal, two gallons of vinegar and a gallon each of oil and brandy') to the list from http://mayflowerhistory.com/provision-lists ('Biscuit, beer, salt, (dried) beef, salt pork, oats, peas, wheat, butter, sweet oil, mustard seed, ling or cod fish, "good cheese", vinegar, aqua-vitae, rice, bacon, cider'). Note: 'corn meal' = 'wheat'; 'oatmeal' = 'oats'; 'vinegar' = 'vinegar'; 'oil' = 'sweet oil'; 'brandy' = 'aqua-vitae.'


[In a panel with light-gray background is a block of text:]
An investigator claims to have discovered in some dusty archives that back in the days when the Pilgrims landed each person coming to America from England was required to bring with them eight bushels of corn meal, two bushels of oatmeal, two gallons of vinegar and a gallon each of oil and brandy.
In view of the fact that nothing of importance hinges on the truth or falsity of this statement, not much time need be consumed to ascertain whether this is truth or fiction.
—Kansas City Sun
Friday, May 6th, 1921
[Caption below the panel]
I have a grudging respect for this 1921 newspaper fact-checker.


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Two gallons of vinegar, huh? 14:26, 27 March 2019 (UTC)

While I too respect this fact checker's perspective on what really matters (and what doesn't), it's clear to me that in this fact-obsessed 21st century we cannot let this purported fact go unverified. Get on it, people! ;) PotatoGod (talk) 14:32, 27 March 2019 (UTC)

I was looking at http://mayflowerhistory.com/provision-lists that discusses some lists of items that the pilgrims were to take with them. This sounds related to what was discussed in the text from the newspaper. 14:08, 29 March 2019 (UTC)

Great find! The summary you linked lists 'Biscuit, beer, salt, (dried) beef, salt pork, oats, peas, wheat, butter, sweet oil, mustard seed, ling or cod fish, "good cheese", vinegar, aqua-vitae, rice, bacon, cider.' The newspaper lists 'eight bushels of corn meal, two bushels of oatmeal, two gallons of vinegar and a gallon each of oil and brandy.' We have evidence of all of the listed foods, just not evidence of the quantities or the idea that it was a requirement: 'corn meal' = 'wheat'; 'oatmeal' = 'oats'; 'vinegar' = 'vinegar'; 'oil' = 'sweet oil'; 'brandy' = 'aqua-vitae.' AFM 20:44, 11 April 2022 (UTC)

I fact checked this comic. The text in question is on page 8 of the newspaper, leftmost column, three paragraphs from the bottom. Billtheplatypus (talk) 15:12, 27 March 2019 (UTC)

[citation needed] The LOC link in the explanation says that the Kansas City Sun was a Saturday Weekly, so it wouldn't have been published on Friday, May 6th, 1921 as claimed. Unfortunately, the LOC only has scans of from 1914 through 1920, so it doesn't have scans for 1921. Do you have a source where you fact checked it? Blaisepascal (talk) 15:39, 27 March 2019 (UTC)
This. You can get the OCR if you don't want to sign up. 16:08, 27 March 2019 (UTC)
Off topic, but oldnewspapers are interesting. Especially the notices and lawsuit notifications, it's interesting to see that the newspaper notifications was considered enough notice that a judgement could be rendered. 17:17, 27 March 2019 (UTC)
This is still the case. For certain types of civil actions where the respondent's address is unknown and personal service is otherwise unavailable, notice through newspaper publication is sufficient. Larger cities in the US even have specialist legal newspapers that are primarily funded by payments for publishing these and other public notices.
I think the explanation needs to clarify the dates here. There appear to be two different Kansas City Suns, one in Kansas, the other in Missouri. The Missouri one was a published from 1908-1924 and targeted the black community. The Kansas one was published at least from 1892 to 1924, and possibly longer (digitized issues up to 1924 are available online, which is also about when things start being still under copyright. Coincidence?). This fact check is in the Kansas paper. Blaisepascal (talk) 18:13, 27 March 2019 (UTC)

Wouldn't "whatever" be not worth checking? "Mostly whatever" implies it could be worth checking but beyond current enthusiasm. -- 15:29, 27 March 2019 (UTC)

I thought corn travelling back from England to America was the problem... 16:02, 27 March 2019 (UTC)

By 1620 there should've been plenty of time to establish some growing of maize in England. I don't know the real truth, but it's plausible. -- 16:38, 27 March 2019 (UTC)
Historically, "corn" was a general term for grain, usually the local grain. It also referred to things which where grain-sized, like the large grains of salt used to make "corned beef" or hard warts on the feet. It was only in North America where the predominant local grain was maize that "corn" came to have the narrower meaning of maize. If there really was a requirement to bring a supply of "cornmeal" in the early 1600's from England to the Americas, I'd expect it to be ground wheat, barleycorn, or rye, not maize. Blaisepascal (talk) 16:47, 27 March 2019 (UTC)
It's there any more information/sources on this? I find this interesting. 17:17, 27 March 2019 (UTC)
Source: wiktionary, google's dictionary, and presumably any other English dictionary you might prefer. Zmatt (talk) 18:01, 27 March 2019 (UTC)
Anyone interested in this kind of things? Well the angel-saxons which came from Germany to England (or Angelland, as it was called , after them). They brought many agricultural (and other) stuff and their german names for it. even though the spelling and/or pronounciation has developed differnetly often, there are still many parallels. Especially to older English. A German female pig is a "Sau", pronounced just as "sow", the german word for grain? "Korn", cow? "Kuh" (pronounced similarily). There are many more examples, but this are the ones coming to my mind instantly. --Lupo (talk) 14:45, 29 March 2019 (UTC)
Is this related to the corn mazes that I see on TV shows? Some kind of pun about maize mazes? I don't live in the US, I don't know a lot about that; I have only seen those in TV shows 03:12, 28 March 2019 (UTC)
Oh, they really exist. I've encountered them in both New York and Maryland. We use to go to one as a "mandatory fun" day at my former employer. In fact, when I left my old job, my boss asked me if I wanted to stay an extra week to participate in the annual employee event. I asked him, "Does it involve corn?" and when I got a yes, I said no thanks. 14:45, 28 March 2019 (UTC)
Guys, "corn" is the English word for "grain" or "seeds". When they said corn meal, they meant flour, probably wheat. Maize was called "Indian corn" because it was indian grain. But as settlers grew their own indian corn, they dropped the word "indian" to differentiate it, just calling theirs "corn", which is how our maize ended up with this misnomer. — Kazvorpal (talk) 05:06, 1 April 2019 (UTC)

Blaisepascal is arguing that the article (or incomplete template) was, in fact, created by a BOT. Before starting an edit war, can I check the consensus on what we do with the created by? I always use the [relevant item]. That's right, Jacky720 just signed this (talk | contribs) 19:53, 27 March 2019 (UTC)

I've seen it both ways, although keeping the BOT part would be less common. It works as is; I wouldn't change it. -- 07:48, 28 March 2019 (UTC)

In this age of fanatism and factionism of all kinds, Randall could't be more wrong. Ask Swift's Endians. 23:13, 29 March 2019 (UTC)

Fact check: Mostly False! 14:50, 31 March 2019 (UTC)
You'll have to be more specific as to what Randall's wrong about. Regardless, in a practical sense, Randall most certainly *could* be more wrong. As Stuart put it so well in The Big Bang Theory: "It's a little wrong to say a tomato is a vegetable; it's very wrong to say it's a suspension bridge." 08:11, 13 April 2019 (UTC)